All we ever wanted was to try and make something out of this. Back when happiness was the blueprint and we felt destined to unleash the potential inside of us. In our mind’s we had more to offer this world than the traditional 9-5 blue-collar existence and entering the ranks of higher academe to further our education would only help in turning our ideology to reality.
The notion consisted of us emerging from this experience—degrees of separation in hand—victorious. The cream of the crop if you will, mere formalities to taking our places among the shared greatness of our peers and colleagues in whatever our chosen field of study. No one ever told us that upon graduating that even though we can indeed now see farther toward our dreams. We are not necessarily any closer.
Now we’ve graduated and for better or worse we now know what we know. But are we somehow better than we were as a pre-fresh? Have we truly progressed, planned, and prepared for a life after undergrad? Well ready or not we have all now come face to face with the task of answering the most important question asked of themselves by every college graduate. What now?
Unless the plan is to attend graduate school or you are of the few blessed with a job in waiting the alternative becomes finding a way for that degree which supposedly separates you from the “middle” to live up to its billing.
Because the truth is from the moment we receive that diploma and swing our tassels from right to left the onus is on us to prove all the money, the time, and ultimately the mere choice to further our education was the right decision at bridging an average way of life into a successful one.
When that newly framed degree feels as if it is taunting from its place on the mantle there is a panic and sense of urgency that washes over you. Following through on the promise and potential once there are no more classes to attend now seems more daunting a challenge then previously imagined. Especially when coupled with the realization that it is you and only you in which the worth held within that frame must be proven.
How can you justify transitioning from commencement to complacency? What, we spent all that time attempting to better ourselves, paying dues, putting in the work only to go back to working the same nowhere jobs for compensation well below what we believe to be our worth? Is that the thing?
The clear and present threat of danger in ending up exactly who and what you were pre-degree and post degree is real. Separated by the faintest of grey lines where crossing it either way could mean the difference between ending up at the end of a colorful rainbow or blacking out.
Whether it is our uncertainty, our fears, or our lack of acceptance while utilizing our educated talents in the “real world” we as graduate’s too often fall victim to a stagnating academic malaise. With no grade to achieve, no professor mandating assignments, the motivation to pursue the dream with the same intensity can wane and even fade completely.
We question ourselves and wonder if the knowledge and skills we attained will translate from classroom to whichever career we choose. Fear and doubt began to eat away at the honors G.P.A. confidence you painstakingly built up semester after sleepless semester. What if you're not good enough? Can the accumulated praise and high grades from countless professors really act as a currency to barter a world’s embrace?
One of the hardest things to do is convince yourself you can accomplish something. For every acknowledgment, accolade and gold star received during your time learning in class there are equal days spent once it’s over questioning and tearing down their credibility as well as your own. Before you know it, you've lost sight of why you started on this path in the first place.
It is necessary that those of us with the drive to successfully navigate undergrad but somehow find ourselves veering off road in an aimless direction afterwards steady the course. We need to believe in our abilities and our minds and the degrees to which we have earned our separation from a lifeless ordinary.
My personal dealings with post-partum degrees of separation has tried but has yet to diminish my spirit. I remain convinced that I chose the right lane to follow my dream and live a life in the pursuit of happiness. After all, happiness is everything and to put a price on one’s happy is for me, the saddest thing.
I was just trying to make something out of this. I remember how I wasn’t even supposed to be here. Laid off and set aside by PepsiCo and how a closed door became the exit for me to reach here. Tuition, taxation, and fees here and how I’d almost certainly pay it double to keep a seat here. I couldn’t find a better shine than the gleam that I see here. But admittedly I ask myself as a writer what separates me from everyone else that’s meant to be here. With degree, I weather.